Two self-service snack lounges open 24/7, plus free room service
No swim-up bar
Some complaints of mediocre food
Pools are a bit small for the size of the resort
Shade is limited at the pools and beach
No AC in lobby
No non-motorized water sports on-site (only off-site at Aqua World)
Lower-floor rooms can expect noise from pool area
No adult-only pool
Time-share salespeople can be annoying
Strong surf at the beach, with dangerous riptides (typical for area)
No business center or concierge (which means long lobby lines even for simple requests)
This sprawling, upscale, all-inclusive resort in the Hotel Zone is one of the best values in Cancun. The competitive prices draw a fair number of partiers, and this is one of the most happening resorts in the area, with lots of poolside activities (tequila volleyball, anyone?). But the resort draws plenty of families as well, thanks to its two pools (neither huge, and neither with a swim-up bar), a kiddy splash park with a pirate ship and slides, kids' club, and teens club. There are five restaurants and bars, but many find the food mediocre. The 470 rooms all have balconies or terraces (sometimes with stunning views), though some are showing wear. Wi-Fi isn’t included in some of the room rates, and non-motorized water sports (such as snorkels and kayaks) are only available off-site at Aqua World (a five-minute bus ride). Those looking for a less party-hearty vibe might prefer the smaller GR Caribe by Solaris.
One of the most happening all-inclusives in the area, with a surprising mix of partiers and families
Gran Caribe is one of the best all-inclusive values in the Cancun Hotel Zone, and its attractive prices draw a fair number of partiers, especially during spring break and other peak times. But plenty of families like the Gran Caribe for its attractive prices as well -- not to mention its kids' club, teens' club, and water park. The result is a slightly strange scene that's part boozing twentysomethings playing tequila volleyball and part little kids splashing in the main pool, at the kiddy splash pool with pirate ship, or watching magic shows. In any case, expect the pool scene to be bustling and pretty loud, with blasting music and a lively entertainment staff (these staffers are beloved by many guests, and can help make an entire trip).
There certainly are downsides, but given the fair rates, they won't be deal-breakers for many. Expect to sweat a bit in the massive lobby, which is partly open to the outdoors (but not enough so to take full advantage of ocean breezes). Expect to sweat a bit more by the pool and on on the beach, where shade is limited (if you want to score some, be prepared to get up early). For the size of the resort, both the pools and the spa could be a bit larger, and the partiers will likely bemoan the lack of a swim-up bar. The draw here isn't the food, though the variety is pretty decent. Also, expect some wear throughout. The flooring has been worn down over the years, and there’s some natural weathering due to sun, sand, and humidity.
It is hard to find an all-inclusive in this price range without some party atmosphere; those looking to avoid it might consider ditching the all-inclusive route and booking a stay at the Westin Lagunamar. The all-inclusive GR Caribe Solaris is often slightly more expensive, but quieter and smaller -- though as it has access to a more happening scene at its next door sister property, Royal Solaris, it might offer the best of both worlds. The Gran Caribe's own sister resort next door, Hyatt Zilara, is significantly more luxurious and expensive. (There used to be upgrades that allowed Gran Caribe guests access to its facilities, but no longer.)
The look of the resort is sprawling and grand (if slightly dated), with square columns running the length of the marble-tiled lobby, potted trees, wicker chairs, and Mayan-themed artwork.
The Gran Caribe is set in the heart of the Hotel Zone of the city, just a little bit south of the main clubs and the convention center. It's about a 20-minute walk, or five-minute drive, to Coco Bongo, Senor Frog's, and the Cancun ICC. La Isla open-air mall and plaza is a five-minute drive south of the resort. Downtown is around 20 to 30 minutes away via bus or taxi, depending on traffic, both of which can be hailed from the avenue in front of the resort. The airport is around 30 minutes away without traffic.
Spacious rooms with marble bathrooms and balconies, some with ocean views
Rooms at the Gran Caribe are airy, with marble tile floors, dark wood furniture, and white bedding and walls. The machine texture walls and ceilings hint at the rooms' true age, and some show minor wear or have the occasional maintenance issue. Amenities include air-conditioning, minibars stocked with beer, water, soda, and juice, and coffeemakers. (Some upgraded categories also include a liquor cabinet.) On the technology front, there are flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and in-room safes.
All of the rooms are billed as suites, but don't let that confuse you; the entry-level Standard Suites start at 387 square feet and are a single room. The Junior Suites are all the same size, but some are configured with sitting areas with sofa beds, and the Family Junior Suite has bunk beds and a trundle bed (accommodating a family of five). Most have a king-size bed; only the Standard Suite has the option of two double beds. The Gran Master One-Bedroom Suite is a significant upgrade in terms of space, with 646 square feet and a separate living room with sofa bed. Every room comes with a furnished balcony or terrace, and views vary; most rooms look out over the ocean in some way or another, though some are of the less-inspiring lagoon, and others of the interior. Note that only rooms categorized as oceanfront have a direct view, while "ocean view" rooms tend to have partial views. Ground-level rooms have walk-out access. Expect to see the same marble flooring of the hallways in the rooms.
Bathrooms typically have orange onyx marble countertops, mirrors with dark-wood trim. and walk-in showers with adjustable-height showerheads and glass doors. Whirlpool tubs are found in some of the higher-end rooms, overlooking the ocean alongside the balcony windows.
Two pools, a beautiful beach, a kids' club, and a small spa
The resort's two pools are a bit small for the size of the resort. The main, oceanfront pool is surrounded by blue mesh and white plastic loungers, but umbrellas are scarce and go quickly, as do the cabanas and palapas at the beach. There are plenty of activities, though, ranging from bingo to pool volleyball to tug-of-war. The beach is a truly beautiful stretch of white sand, and beach volleyball is offered, though note that the surf is pretty rough. Because of that, non-motorized water sports are not available right on-site; guests will need to drive five minutes to Aqua World for use of snorkels, paddleboards, and the like.
The kids' club has supervised activities for ages 4 to 12, and there's also a teens' club with air hockey and video games, plus activities throughout the day. The kids' splash pool with a small pirate ship has multiple small sides and tends to be a hit with the little ones, and the 9-hole mini-golf course is another fun option. There are even mini-bathrooms so that the kids can feel grown up!
Evening entertainment may include parties at the beach, live music at the lobby bar, and evening theater shows -- though the quality of these gets mixed reviews.
The spa is a small affair on the back side of the resort down a small walkway past the salon and convention space, just across from the gym. There’s a small whirlpool tub just outside of the spa, and a few salons inside for massages and the like. The gym is fully equipped but lacks any sort of views.
While many resorts have some form of a chapel on site, the one at the Gran Caribe is ordained for Catholic use only. It overlooks the beach and ocean and can seat a few dozen guests. As far as convention space, the resort has six salons and a main stage, with space for up to 2,500 guests.
Five gourmet restaurants, five bars, two self-service snack lounges, and 24-hour room service
There are five restaurants to choose from at Gran Caribe, most of them with ocean views; some feature open kitchens so guests can watch the food preparation. There are two buffets serving all three meals: Albatros (international fare), and Gaviotas (Mexican and Caribbean-influenced cuisine). There are three a la carte restaurants: Il Pescatore (Italian, for dinner only), Maria's (Mexican, for dinner only), and Sunset Grill (an outdoor terrace setting, open for lunch and dinner). Reservations are not required but it is recommended to line up early to get a good seating; otherwise expect the restaurant to be booked, or to dine very late. Albatros, Maria's, and Gaviotas also have bars, and there are a lobby bar and beach bar.
There are also a pair of 24/7 self-service snack lounges (the Gran VIP Lounge has more drink options, including imports), as well as free room service (morning to night).
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